Monday, July 7, 2014

ARC Review: The Awakening of Miss Prim

Title: The Awakening of Miss Prim
Author: Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
Published: July 8, 2014 by Atria
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Synopsis:In this #1 international bestseller, a young woman leaves everything behind to work as a librarian in a remote French village, where she finds her outlook on life and love challenged in every way.

Prudencia Prim is a young woman of intelligence and achievement, with a deep knowledge of literature and several letters after her name. But when she accepts the post of private librarian in the village of San Ireneo de Arnois, she is unprepared for what she encounters there. Her employer, a book-loving intellectual, is dashing yet contrarian, always ready with a critique of her cherished Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. The neighbors, too, are capable of charm and eccentricity in equal measure, determined as they are to preserve their singular little community from the modern world outside.

Prudencia hoped for friendship in San Ireneo but she didn't suspect that she might find love—nor that the course of her new life would run quite so rocky or would offer challenge and heartache as well as joy, discovery, and fireside debate. Set against a backdrop of steaming cups of tea, freshly baked cakes, and lovely company,is a distinctive and delightfully entertaining tale of literature, philosophy, and the search for happiness.

*** I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. My opinion has not been changed by this fact***

Something about this book made me inexplicably happy, giddy almost. Maybe it was the subtlety of the humor, the relatability of the narrator, or the sardonic treatment of classic romance but it was just delightful.

Or maybe it's because The Awakening of Miss Prim reminded me so much of one of my favorite TV shows of all times, Gilmore Girls. But like Gilmore Girls set in rural France with the part of Rory being played by four precocious siblings and Lorelei not being very likable at first. It has the same kind of essence to the tale. It's the story of a spunky modern woman trying to make it in a idyllic small town full of quirky characters.

This spunky modern woman in question is the titular Miss Prim. And while she is a little uptight at first she quickly becomes extremely likable and relatable. She is a bookish woman who takes a job as a librarian to escape her old job. She always seems to be escaping something. Escaping something and stubbornly fighting something. As if the synopsis and title were not enough of a giveaway, Miss Prim has a great character arc or "awakening" throughout the book and it was fun to be along for the ride. Being an educated woman she has these ideas and thoughts that seem at odds with the people of this small town. For me however they seem so similar to my opinions and I found it easy to empathize with Miss Prim and take her side when she took to arguing about marriage, woman's issues, and literature.

Speaking of literature, this is a book for bookish people. Throughout the novel there are subtle and overt references to classic works of literature such as Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Little Woman. All books that I have strong feelings about similar to Miss Prim. The book often takes an interesting and critical stance by criticizing these books and their characters. At times it reads like a parody or critique of these classic romances. Fans of classics will enjoy this book for it's references to their favorite stories and enjoy arguing along with Miss Prim and "the Man in the Wingchair."

But it's not just literature that these two argue about, and it's not just him that she argues with. This book is a lot more philisophical and spiritual than I was initially expecting. Throughout the book the characters and situations address a lot of different aspects of human life and religion and critically analyzes them in a unique and interesting way. At times it reminded me about books that I enjoyed by authors such as Milan Kundera and Paulo Coehlo and I found myself highlighting passages and quotes because I enjoyed them so much.

Another interesting thing about this book that made me inexplicably happy was that I'm not really sure how to classify it's genre. I'm not sure if it's Historical Fiction or Contemporary. The characters, the situations, and this book on the whole seems to defy convention and can't be pigeonholed. It feels like it takes place in another time but it also has modern sensibilities and references. But that's part of it's charm.The Awakening of Miss Prim takes the reader back to a simpler time and allows you to feel the easy-going nature of escape that is so enjoyable in reading literature.

My only problem with this book was the pacing and even at times, the plot development. It seemed a little all over the place. It wasn't exactly a thrilling page-turner or the kid of book you wanted to read in one sitting. Maybe it was that easy-going nature of the book but I wasn't at all sure what it was building to. I had two possible directions as to where the book was heading but things just sort of existed. I didn't feel like there was much of a resolution or even a real climax to the story and the ending felt a little abrupt. And while it was a fun escape, it isn't the kind of book you can loose yourself in, causing you to forget about the world around you.

I give The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera an 8.5 out of 10

On the whole I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun summer read and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Historical Fiction and/or Contemporary. But more than that I would recommend this book to anyone who like books about books and bookish people. It was a great book for my "Geek Books" theme.

Have you read The Awakening of Miss Prim? What were your thoughts? Leave me a comment. If you haven't read Miss Prim what is your favorite book about books? I have a few others that I am considering and I would love suggestions. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Great review! I haven't heard of this book, but it sounds like it could be a good read - even if it's a little outside of what I'd normally read. Quick question though: how can it be an international bestseller if it comes out tomorrow?

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    1. Good question. The author is Spanish and the book was first published in Spain over a year ago. It's been published in a few other European countries and it comes out in the US tomorrow, sorry for the lack of communication on the subject.